4 of 5 charges dropped in Shamokin shooting
SUNBURY - A jury negotiated for two hours Monday before finding a 61-year-old Shamokin man not guilty of four criminal offenses in connection with a bizarre shooting two years ago involving allegations that both the defendant and victim were high on bath salts.
David Edward Latsha, of 129 S. Third St., was found innocent of two counts each of aggravated assault (felonies) and simple assault (misdemeanors). The defendant was found guilty of a misdemeanor of recklessly endangering another person at the conclusion of a two-day trial presided over by Judge Charles Saylor.
The jury rendered its verdict at about 5 p.m. after briefly asking Saylor to clarify the charges of simple assault and recklessly endangering another person.
Although pleased that he was found not guilty of most of the charges, Latsha believes he should have been acquitted of all the offenses. "I think it's really sad when a guy comes into your house and does what he did. I think finding me guilty of that one charge was a bad decision," he said.
Assistant district attorney Michael Toomey said he respected the jury's verdict.
Saylor denied Toomey's motion to increase Latsha's bail since he was found guilty of a misdemeanor.
Public defender Melissa Norton said her client had previously been in jail for about two years in lieu of $20,000 cash bail and didn't deserve spending more time in prison since he was acquitted on the most serious offenses.
Saylor ordered a pre-sentence investigation in the case and will sentence the defendant within 90 days.
Norton said the standard range sentence for recklessly endangering another person is probation to 9 months imprisonment.
Latsha was charged by Shamokin Patrolman Shane Mowery with shooting his friend, Paul Kinsey in the leg with a revolver at the defendant's home March 25, 2012. Kinsey underwent emergency room treatment at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville before being admitted in fair condition and later discharged.
The trial included testimony from approximately 15 witnesses, including the defendant, Kinsey, Mowery and several other police officers.
During their closing arguments, Toomey said Latsha was negligent and reckless for possessing a gun inside his home and alleged both men were under the influence of bath salts at the time of the shooting, while Norton claimed Latsha was afraid Kinsey was going to kill him because he possessed a gun in his waist band and knives that he kept waving at him.
Toomey said Latsha called the county communications center three times on the morning of the shooting, but didn't claim anyone was shot until the third call. He also claimed the defendant never told police that Kinsey was threatening him with knives.
The prosecutor also claimed Latsha made some unusual comments about six guys with Hawaiian hats stealing keys from his unconscious body and a female with orange clown hair with noodles in it being inside his home.
During his testimony, Latsha denied making any such comments and also told police he wasn't under the influence of bath salts, although he did admit that he and Kinsey had consumed about 12 beers.
Latsha said Kinsey often stopped by his home to play the guitar.
A search of Latsha's home after the shooting revealed a .35 revolver and a .22 Phoenix Arms semi-automatic pistol on the first floor and a large pool of blood in a small cluttered room in the rear of the second floor.